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August 26, 2021

Fantasy: Projecting your Week 4 lineups

The Canadian Press

On a slate with just three games, projections can tend to get clumped together a bit. There are a couple of options at each position that stand above the rest and players from the Tiger-Cats and Alouettes will flood a lot of lineups as they have the highest game total of the week (46.5).

With the first game of Week 4 kicking off on Friday night, fantasy players will have to keep their eyes on injury reports and depth charts to determine what value plays might emerge in time for the weekend.

PLAY CFL FANTASY
» Set your lineup for Week 4!
» Start vs. Sit: An interesting week for QBs
» Weekly Predictor: Taking the Ticats

A rib injury for Jeremiah Masoli will open the door for Ticats’ QB Dane Evans this week, as he’ll look to get back to his 2019 ways in Montreal (Photo: The Canadian Press)

QUARTERBACKS
Vernon Adams, MTL – $11,282
Dane Evans, HAM – $9,393
Michael Reilly, BC – $9,117

Punt Single:
Jake Maier, CGY – $5000

After being the leading MOP candidate through five weeks in 2019, it’s been an inauspicious return to football for Jeremiah Masoli in 2021. Two games are a mighty small sample size, especially versus the top two defences in the league, but the Ticats are averaging a league-low 5.24 yards per pass attempt through that stretch. That’s lower than both the Alouettes and Argonauts are averaging per rush attempt thus far.

Dane Evans is set to start for the Ticats in Week 4, with Jeremiah Masoli out with a rib injury. Two games is a mighty small sample size, especially versus the top two defences in the league, but through that stretch the Ticats are averaging a league-low 5.24 yards per pass attempt. That’s lower than both the Alouettes and Argonauts are averaging per rush attempt thus far.

Evans looked even worse than Masoli in Week 3, passing for three completions on 10 attempts for a paltry 2.1 yards per toss. This week’s matchup versus the Alouettes looks a little more appealing as they are coming off a game in which they allowed 304 yards passing to raw rookie Jake Maier. Montreal has allowed a league-high 9.3 yards per pass attempt this season, so this may be Hamilton’s best chance to begin to regress towards the mean.

Evans’ opponent, Vernon Adams Jr., is also coming off a pretty rough outing despite some late-game heroics. Adams and the Als’ offence came out of the gate strong with two TDs versus Calgary, but they had five straight possessions with a punt to start the second half. Adams regularly eschewed open check downs for downfield shots into coverage, leading to the Als’ struggles and a league-low 52.4 per cent completion rate.

The fact William Stanback is still without a catch through two games is evidence of some of Adams’ issues. The Tiger-Cats’ defence was expected to be a fearsome unit going into 2021, but they haven’t looked it so far and there’s a chance they may be down three players from their front four this week. They are allowing the highest rate of passing TDs per attempt and the second-highest rate of passing yards per attempt to opposing quarterbacks so far in this very young season. If Adams is willing to take what the defence gives him, it could be a big week for the Montreal passing attack.

The BC Lions lead the league in passing yards (867) through three weeks, but unfortunately, those aren’t all attributed to Michael Reilly. On the bright side, BC has one of the most dangerous receiving corps in the league, with the duo of Burnham and Whitehead leading the way. On the downside, Reilly spent a lot of time on his backside in Week 3 versus Edmonton as the Lions’ old problems with pass protection came back to the forefront.

Fortunately, Reilly faces an Ottawa defence this week that has a league-low three sacks so far in 2021. The Lions are getting the most yards per pass attempt this season (8.76), and the REDBLACKS are allowing the most plays per game to opposing offences thus far (63.5), as their anemic offence just can’t stay on the field. At a significant discount to Evans and Adams, Reilly is undoubtedly in play.

For those looking to go the full value route at QB, Jake Maier is still priced at just $5K despite a solid debut for Calgary. He certainly started rocky with two early INTs, but as Montreal could not get consistent pressure, Maier settled in and threw for over 300 yards and a TD. This week’s draw will be a much stiffer test as the Bombers’ defence allows the second-lowest rates of yards per pass attempt (6.41) and TDs per pass attempt thus far in 2021. The pressure should also be dialed up as the Bombers are third in the league in sacks (six), second in forced turnovers (nine), and second in forced two-and-outs (18).


Ka’Deem Carey ran, pushed and flew his way into the end zone last week against Montreal for a pair of touchdowns (Candice Ward/Stampeders.com)

RUNNING BACK
William Stanback, MTL – $7,755
Ka’Deem Carey, CGY – $6,429
Sean Thomas Erlington, HAM – $5,408

Punt Single:
Justin Davis, OTT – $2,500

Despite being second in the league in rushing (194) with only two games played so far, Stanback’s fantasy season has been somewhat disappointing. In PPR (point per reception) scoring systems, getting receptions is essential to the value of the top-priced players at the running back position, and Stanback is still without a catch through his first two games. He had two drops versus the Elks in Week 2 and it seemed his quarterback largely ignored him as a receiving option in Week 3 versus Calgary.

If Stanback is going to pay off his near $8,000 salary, he will have to get at least a few receptions versus Hamilton in Week 4. The Als lead the league in yards per rush so far and face a Ticats’ defence that is allowing a league-high 6.2 yards per carry through their first two games. It could be a big game for Stanback, as he is far and away the top projected RB on the slate.

A week ago, I mused that the Calgary offence might stall altogether with Maier under the helm, which was bad news for Carey. While it’s true Carey couldn’t get much traction on the ground – amassing just 62 yards on 14 carries – he did manage to get his first two scores of the season and have a great fantasy outing.

Touchdown scoring is notoriously tricky to project, and the Stamps are getting the third-fewest yards per carry this season (4.35). If Maier keeps the offence moving, Carey could have a shot at the endzone again versus a Bombers defence that has given up a league-high three scores on the ground — saying that he is likely TD dependent at this salary again this week despite his solid workload.

Since his return from injury, Sean Thomas Erlington has had nearly the entire workload in Hamilton’s backfield all to himself. Unfortunately for him, the Ticats offence has mustered just 3.7 yards per carry thus far – behind only the REDBLACKS (3.69) in that category. Erlington has made up for it somewhat with eight receptions on 14 targets but at some point, he’ll have to get some traction or be faced with the return of both Don Jackson and Maleek Irons to the lineup eating into his workload. There’s nothing particularly exciting about the matchup with Montreal. A lot of the value of STE likely depends on whether the Ticats can correct their pass protection issues and finish drives with TDs in Week 4.

With Timothy Flanders leaving the Week 3 matchup with the Riders due to injury, the status of the Ottawa RB position is somewhat up in the air going into Week 4. Flanders missed practice on Tuesday and Wednesday as well. Devonte Dedmon filled in as the emergency RB for the REDBLACKS to finish the game in Regina, but he’s unlikely to see that role again versus BC. There’s a chance Brendan Gillanders ($3,000) could get the starting nod, but a better guess is that Justin Davis comes off the practice roster for his CFL debut. He won’t, however, be available to roster in fantasy contests until that move becomes official. It’s difficult to get excited about any Ottawa offensive player at this point, but an RB of Davis pedigree at minimum salary is always worth a look.


The tandem of Kenny Lawler and Darvin Adams should make Winnipeg’s receiving corps that much more dangerous for the rest of this season (Jason Halstead/CFL.ca)

RECEIVER
Brandon Banks, HAM – $14,000
Bryan Burnham, BC – $9,584
Jaelon Acklin, HAM – $5,626
Lucky Whitehead, BC – $7,009
Eugene Lewis, MTL – $7,337
Lemar Durant, BC – $6,076
Kamar Jorden, CGY – $9,109
Kenny Lawler, WPG – $6,597
BJ Cunningham, MTL – $5,870
Darvin Adams, WPG – $6,911

Punt Single(s):
Tim White, HAM – $2,500
Papi White, HAM – $2,500
Kelvin McKnight, WPG – $2,500

Two games is a minimal sample size. It just is. That being said, it’s been an awful start for the Ticats’ passing attack as they are averaging a league-low 5.24 yards per pass attempt after averaging a league-high 8.97 yards per pass attempt in 2019. It’s tough to justify Banks’ $14,000 salary at the best of times, but in a rut like this, it’s nigh unto impossible despite a projection for 11 targets this week.

Even a moderate regression to the mean for Banks and the rest of the Hamilton receiving corps would make the supporting cast great plays, as Acklin has a moderate salary around $5,000 and both Papi and Tim White are at minimum salary. Both Acklin and Papi White are in the top-six this season in terms of aDOT and face an Alouettes’ defence allowing a league-high 9.3 yards per target to opposing receivers. This may be regression week part two.

It’s hard to believe that the Lions’ receiving corps leads the league in yardage with just 31 total points scored over their past two games. They all had lacklustre games versus Edmonton in Week 3, but their Week 4 matchup with Ottawa provides an excellent opportunity for a bounce-back performance. BC leads the league in yards per target (8.76) and they project to have the second-most pass attempts this week versus an Ottawa defence that just can’t stay off the field in allowing a league-high 63.5 offensive snaps and 33:45 time of possession to opposing offences. Burnham is still the best fantasy option in the Lions stable, but his salary is somewhat prohibitive, near $10,000. A less expensive option like Whitehead ($7,000) has a similar ceiling, while a bargain option like Durant ($6,000) offers a similarly high floor.

The Montreal passing attack is a dangerous unit, but it always seems a headache for fantasy players. They are rarely a high-yardage group, and figuring out where the TDs will go is an exercise in futility. In Week 3, Lewis and Cunningham turned a combined 20 targets into just 118 yards, Bray had a TD on just three receptions for 37 yards, and Jake Wieneke had a whopping 12 targets for 106 yards and a score after averaging just four targets per game in 2019.

As mentioned, the matchup with Hamilton is ripe for scoring with the highest game total of the week (46.5). Lewis and Cunningham are the two safest bets in the Als’ passing attack, with Cunningham being the best value. Both Lewis (17.6) and Cunningham (16.1) are in the top 10 this season for aDOT. Some players may be interested in chasing the Wieneke breakout game, but he will have to post another 100-yard game or a TD to be worth his ballooning salary.

There was significant concern that the Stampeders’ passing attack would crater altogether after the loss of Bo Levi Mitchell. Still, they responded with their highest passing output of the season with 304 yards. Going into 2021, there was talk that the target share would be more widely distributed than in past seasons and that has been the case to some extent, as eight different players have at least three targets this year. The most surprising part is that Kamar Jorden is seventh on the team in targets with just eight – behind both RBs. It’s impossible to spend up for Jorden until those targets level out.

Both Huff and Ambles seemed to be Maier’s primary reads in his first start and both are priced reasonably around $5,000. Going into Winnipeg is always a difficult task for opposing offences, though the Bombers are allowing just 6.41 yards per target to opposing receivers thus far. The Stampeders’ passing attack is an excellent source of salary relief but may also find the going a lot more difficult this week than they did in Maier’s debut.

The opposing Bombers receiving corps are likely licking their chops as they face a Stampeders secondary that has allowed the second-most yards per target (8.54) and the second-most receptions of 30-plus yards (four) this season. The return of Darvin Adams in Week 3, as expected, brought Kenny Lawler’s targets back to more normal levels. That said, the duo of Adams and Lawler should give secondaries headaches all season while the supporting cast of players like McKnight and Bailey are less reliable but acceptable salary relief double stack options with Collaros.

The Winnipeg offence has also gone surprisingly pass-heavy so far in 2021, with 65 per cent of called plays being passes, compared to just 50 per cent in 2019. So long as that volume stays up, both Lawler and Adams are reasonable options.


DEFENCE
Winnipeg Blue Bombers – $4,700
BC Lions – $3,200

At the defence position in Week 4, there are two options to go with – paying all the way up to the top or dropping all the way down to the bottom. The Bombers defence has averaged a whopping 13.3 fantasy points so far in 2021 and now gets to face inexperienced QB Jake Maier in his first road game in the CFL. Maier’s early INTs show that he can be rattled, and Winnipeg may take advantage of that.

On the other end of the pricing spectrum, the BC Lions get to face an Ottawa offence that has managed just 44 offensive snaps and 150 yards of offence per game so far through two contests. Add to that that R.J. Harris and Timothy Flanders have missed practices this week, and there’s even more reason to believe in a potential feast for the Lions’ defence on Saturday in Ottawa.


STACKS
Jake Maier > Josh Huff/Markeith Ambles

This may not be the highest-scoring stack or double stack of the week, but all three of these players offer significant salary relief at their respective positions, which may make room to spend up for Stanback or Banks.

William Stanback > Alouettes Defence
For fantasy players that don’t believe in Hamilton’s regression narrative in Week 4, pairing Stanback and the Als’ defense provides many positive correlations to build around.


WEEK 4 PROJECTIONS

Name Postion Salary Team Opp Projection Points Per Dollar Pass Attempts Rush Carries Recieving Targets Punt Returns Kick Returns
Vernon ADAMS QB $11,282 MTL HAM 22.83 2.02 30.9 6.6
Michael REILLY QB $9,117.00 BC OTT 20.03 2.2 39.9 1.7
Zach COLLAROS QB $10,757 WPG CGY 17.79 1.65 37.1 1.7
Jake MAIER QB $5,000.00 CGY WPG 16.42 3.28 37 1.5
Matt NICHOLS QB $6,441.00 OTT BC 8.8 1.37 30.2 1.5
Dominique DAVIS QB $5,000.00 OTT BC 1.68 0.34 2
William STANBACK RB $7,755.00 MTL HAM 17.34 2.24 16.5 3
Ka’Deem CAREY RB $6,429.00 CGY WPG 12.95 2.01 14.5 3.7
Sean THOMAS ERLINGTON RB $5,408.00 HAM MTL 12.4 2.29 7.5 4.5
Shaquille COOPER RB $5,926.00 BC OTT 11 1.86 9.6 3
Chris RAINEY RB $3,923.00 BC OTT 10.62 2.71 4.5 2 4 3
Brady OLIVEIRA RB $4,500.00 WPG CGY 9.41 2.09 13.6 2
Jeshrun ANTWI RB $2,500.00 MTL HAM 1.35 0.54 2.5 0.2
Jackson BENNETT RB $3,000.00 HAM MTL 0.42 0.14 0.7
Brandon BANKS WR $14,000 HAM MTL 22.83 1.63 0.5 11 0.3
Bryan BURNHAM WR $9,584.00 BC OTT 18.05 1.88 8.6
Jaelon ACKLIN WR $5,626.00 HAM MTL 17.17 3.05 9
Lucky WHITEHEAD WR $7,009.00 BC OTT 15.39 2.2 7.4
Eugene LEWIS WR $7,337.00 MTL HAM 13.84 1.89 7.8
Lemar DURANT WR $6,076.00 BC OTT 12.97 2.14 7.8
Kamar JORDEN WR $9,109.00 CGY WPG 12.54 1.38 6.3
Kenny LAWLER WR $6,597.00 WPG CGY 12.5 1.89 0.3 7
BJ CUNNINGHAM WR $5,870.00 MTL HAM 12.32 2.1 7.2
Darvin ADAMS WR $6,911.00 WPG CGY 12.15 1.76 7
Josh HUFF WR $4,690.00 CGY WPG 10.83 2.31 7.3
Jake WIENEKE WR $6,554.00 MTL HAM 10.53 1.61 6
Papi WHITE WR $2,500.00 HAM MTL 10.4 4.16 0.5 6
Tim WHITE WR $2,500.00 HAM MTL 10.11 4.04 0.3 6
RJ HARRIS WR $6,523.00 OTT BC 9.59 1.47 6.5
Dominique RHYMES WR $5,484.00 BC OTT 9.35 1.7 5.4
Markeith AMBLES WR $5,389.00 CGY WPG 9.18 1.7 6
Rasheed BAILEY WR $3,848.00 WPG CGY 9.04 2.35 0.3 5.7
Nic DEMSKI WR $5,861.00 WPG CGY 8.87 1.51 0.5 5.5
Quan BRAY WR $6,297.00 MTL HAM 8.59 1.36 5.1
Devonte DEDMON WR $4,193.00 OTT BC 8.43 2.01 0.5 1.7 4 3
Mario ALFORD WR $3,018.00 MTL HAM 8.05 2.67 4 3
Malik HENRY WR $2,500.00 CGY WPG 7.68 3.07 1.5 4 3
Hergy MAYALA WR $5,096.00 CGY WPG 7.49 1.47 4.7
Kelvin MCKNIGHT WR $2,500.00 WPG CGY 7.38 2.95 5.3
Shaquille JOHNSON WR $3,015.00 BC OTT 7.02 2.33 4.4
Ryan DAVIS WR $2,500.00 OTT BC 6.98 2.79 0.8 6.8
Jordan SMALLWOOD WR $2,500.00 OTT BC 5.12 2.05 4.8
Janarion GRANT WR $2,500.00 WPG CGY 5.01 2 4 3
Drew WOLITARSKY WR $3,771.00 WPG CGY 5 1.33 3.3
David UNGERER WR $2,500.00 HAM MTL 4.34 1.74 3.5
Richard SINDANI WR $2,727.00 CGY WPG 4.15 1.52 3
Nathaniel BEHAR WR $2,500.00 OTT BC 3.82 1.53 3.8
Daniel PETERMANN WR $2,500.00 OTT BC 3.82 1.53 3.3
Colton HUNCHAK WR $2,500.00 CGY WPG 2.21 0.89 1.5
Charles NELSON WR $2,500.00 WPG CGY 1.32 0.53 0.8 1
Kaion JULIEN-GRANT WR $2,500.00 MTL HAM 1.29 0.52 1.1
Jevon COTTOY WR $2,658.00 BC OTT 0.94 0.36 1.3
Dante ABSHER WR $2,500.00 MTL HAM 0.45 0.18 0.5

 

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